Melbou:Pressure mounted on beleaguered Australian captain Ricky Ponting with his former team-mate Michael Slater suggesting him to walk into Test sunset after his side was on Tuesday left on the verge of losing the Ashes here.
With Ponting continuing his prolonged lean patch and Australia certain to lose the fourth Test here, reports said he is set to sit out the fifth and final Test starting on January 2 in Sydney with Michael Clarke leading the side.
Slater said the disappointment of England retaining the Ashes would force 36-year-old Ponting to grapple with the possibility of a farewell to Test cricket at the SCG next week.
"He's only human, he'll be forced to think about. This has been a big series and it hasn't panned out. He'll get a few days to himself after the Test. He'll be able to talk to his family and the selectors and take stock of what's happened," Slater said.
"I haven't felt the vibe from Ricky that this is the end, but only he knows what he's really thinking," he was quoted as saying by 'Herald Sun'.
Ponting, who is set to become the first Australian since Billy Murdoch in 1890 to lose three Ashes series as captain, has averaged 16 runs in the series and made just 10 and 20 in the fourth Test here.
Another report said that, with the World Cup less than two months away, Ponting is unlikely to risk aggravation to his broken left pinkie finger by playing in the Sydney Test starting on Monday and Clarke is set to take over the Test captaincy for the first time.
Ponting's injured finger, fractured when he attempted a catch in the third Test in Perth, needs to be rested and further practice sessions and match play could do serious damage, according to 'Sydney Morning Herald'.
The fifth and final Test in Sydney is certain to be a dead rubber as far as possession of the urn is concerned as England will retain the Ashes if they win the fourth Test here.